As of now this is the Inconvenient Muse’s serial blog story: Fae and Folly. There is quite a bit of development yet to come, so if it piques your interest please check back! There may even be an actual Inconvenient Muse who shows up…
The plan (a very loose, changeable plan) is to continue this story in scene-long bursts a minimum of once per week. It’s a nice little change of pace between all of the Forsaken Lands stuff I’ve been working on – and let me assure you, many things are going on with that. So many things.
Too many things.
At any rate – here is Part 2 of Fae and Folly. Enjoy. 🙂
It was snowing outside the windows of the Chicago airport while I went through the rest of the security theater. I tried to focus more on the snow than anything else; there were plenty of people staring at me and whispering, and most days I would indulge in some more showing off like I’d done with the TSA agent. I was late, though, and rather tired. I’d only spent less than 48 hours in the Chicago area, coming in just long enough to finish up a meeting and scurry back to Portland for my first regional bridger conference.
So much to-do with all these things. I hovered the rest of the way through the winding mall-like terminal, searching for my gate. My lips kept drying out from the brush of artificially heated air against my cheeks. Wing flight was lovely no matter where it was done, but it was so much more refreshing to fly when the air was cool and just a bit humid – the Northwest in Fall came to mind. I couldn’t wait to be back with hills and trees around the Portland metro. Chicago simply did not compare.
I buzzed past several cooing children who pointed and giggled. Most Fae had a soft spot for children, sometimes bordering on obsession. Personally I found the vast majority of them rather boring and repetitive, though on rare occasion a child caught my attention. I had a very long relationship with a youngling from Northern California when I was barely old enough to travel outside the glad, a girl who would be a grown woman now. She was quite brilliant for such a little thing.
I supposed that it was exactly that which drew us Fae to the children – their smallness made them much more approachable. They also tended to pay attention to us even back before The Reveal. Human adults had the strangest habit of ignoring perfectly real magick around them, thinking it was a trick of the light or their imagination. I was so young when The Reveal happened that I never got to play tricks on adults like some of my elders. Their stories were quite amusing – almost frightening. Humans insisted on driving giant metal vehicles around yet were historically incapable of noticing the most important of details.
I was almost too late to catch my flight, which was almost exactly on time by my standard. I’d never been known for my patience, and I loathed waiting in lines. Such tedium. A human construct, really – the Fae didn’t line up for anything, but humans seemed to be obsessed with waiting their turn. Fae society had a rather different view of time. We lived twice as long, after all.
“Excuse me,” my wings steadied me at eye-level over the boarding counter. The middle-aged attendant at the computer looked up with veiled alarm. I continued as if I didn’t notice. “I’ll be needing a modified belt.”
The attendant – Thomas, per his nametag – cleared his throat. “Yes, yes of course ma’am. I’ll get that for you immediately.”
I bowed at the waist, crossing my legs to keep my shoes off the counter. Tiny or not, I always found it rude to put ones shoes on another’s working surface. “Much appreciated, Thomas.”
Thomas smiled at me before putting through the order on his radio device. He ended up escorting me to my seat personally, and made sure that I was tucked in. More people stared at me from the rows in front and behind me, a soft murmuring that was so conspicuous that they may as well have been yelling GOOD GODS IT’S A FAERIE ON A PLANE. I stayed polite, taking my window seat without making a fuss and keeping everything as normal as possible as I clicked in my much-smaller modified seatbelt. My briefcase fit very easily under the seat in front of me, the only issue being that I could scarcely nudge it forward with my feet. I supposed it was better than the opposite problem of being too tall for plane seats. I would gladly trade having ample legroom for the inability to easily access my items when my belt was buckled.
No, legroom was not an issue for Faeries on planes. Plane flight instead came with the same inconveniences as almost every other method of mundane travel. I frowned at the plastic wall framing my window. I’d asked for an aisle seat, of course, but with the way the airlines liked to overbook their flights I didn’t get it. I sighed, thrusting my hand into my pocket. I’d brought a small container of water – less than 3 ounces, of course – along with my ever-present bottle of benadryl.
One of many reasons that the Fae didn’t use planes (other than the technophobia, lack of interest, and general disdain for integration into human culture) was because of the overwhelming amount of plastic-contact involved in the feat. Fae were allergic to plastic – really to all petroleum products. The reaction was rarely life-threatening, but by the ancestors did plastic make us itch something terrible. I could already feel my skin tickling, and I had been very careful not to touch anything.
I tossed back my benadryl just as my flying companion settled in beside me. The young woman had long, dark curly hair and exceptionally pale skin. She wore flared-out jeans and a blue hoodie, her hands clasped in her lap. It didn’t take much guesswork to surmise that she was heading home to the Pacific Northwest.
“Hey,” she said, looking down at me. She sounded pleased and even a little excited to see me, though we did not know each other.
“‘Afternoon,” I said in my businessy voice.
The girl paused, as if searching for words. Her gaze lingered on me just a little longer than socially acceptable before she began removing items from her backpack to place them in reach – an iPod, a packet of highlighters, and a medical physiology book.
I smirked to myself, studying her possessions. “Medical student?” I asked, again with a polite, professional voice.
“Ah, yeah. OHSU.”
“Came to Chicago to visit family?”
“Yes, actually,” she chuckled. “How did you know?”
“Why else would anyone leave Portland to visit the midwest in winter?”
“It isn’t so bad. I grew up in Peoria.”
My smirk grew. “Your midwest winters are hell on these wings.” I rubbed one of them fondly. I was born with them, and still I loved their texture – softer than the best of the human fabrics.
“I read about that,” the student said, then paused. “I mean… I guess that sounds a little weird, doesn’t it?”
“Not a bit. I was part of the petition to get the chapter on Fae physiology in your textbooks.” OHSU was actually one of very few medical schools to offer a short course on Fae medicine. I’d been a part of that movement since before I was a bridger – the anti-Fae humans claimed that there were too few of us to warrant an entire medical class, and even then, only a minority of Fae would consent to see a human doctor. The arguments were a smokescreen, of course, like all of the anti-Fae arguments. The anti-Fae hatred ran much deeper than it appeared on the surface.
“Oh wow,” the girl extended a hand in my direction. “My name is Rebecca, by the way.”
“Amelie.” The handshake was less awkward than some. Rebecca was short and had smallish hands, as opposed to some of the gigantic hands I had the misfortune of shaking in my position as a bridger.
“I didn’t think-” Rebecca caught herself before she finished the sentence. “I mean, that’s a really nice name.”
“Shush,” I laughed, “you didn’t think we had mundane names like Amelie. I know. I don’t play games with people. You can be honest.”
“Well, you’re right. I thought you had more… descriptive names.”
“We do, but I like to fit in, just like anybody else.” Her keen eyes reminded me a little of that girl-child that caught my attention in California, and I was feeling charitable despite my fatigue. The flight attendants were doing their safety ritual in the aisles, but I had no interest in listening to all of that again. “You can ask me whatever you want. It’s more fun for me if you talk. I’ve had enough people silently ogle me on this trip to last a lifetime.
Rebecca snorted at my comment, and I shared a grin with her. She secured her book in the magazine pocket. “Well then, do you mind if I ask why you wear the suit?”
“Pinstripes make me look taller. And I’m a bridger, so it’s expected of me.”
“A real bridger?” Rebecca’s eyes widened. “Sorry, it’s just… you’re like an ambassador. Shouldn’t you be sitting up in first class or something?”
“The IFA doesn’t pay me well enough for that,” I said with a roll of my eyes. The IFA – International Fae Alliance – oversaw all bridgers and our funds. It was a communal setup like so many other Fae things, and as such did not necessarily lead to great personal wealth. I didn’t mind the communal culture, but I wouldn’t have minded a few extra dollars to do what I wanted.
“Interesting.” Rebecca shook her head, “I’ve never had the chance to just… talk with one of you. Again, not to sound-”
“Don’t apologize. That’s our own fault.”
“You’re not really what I expected.”
“I’m not much like the other Faeries,” I paused, “but then, most bridgers aren’t.”
“Are you going back to the glade? The one in the gorge?”
“In a bit. I have other business to conduct in town,” I kept that response short. That ‘other business’ had already given me several headaches. The conference was set for Monday, but today was still Saturday – and I was on a plane with an inquisitive young mind. “What other questions do you have?”